Most companies align with SDGs – but more to do on assessing progress

Source: Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), 17 January 2022

A new study has revealed that four-in-five companies assessed now include a commitment in their sustainability reports to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), yet fewer than half set measurable targets for how their actions contribute towards fulfilling the Goals. The publication from GRI and Support the Goals – State of Progress: Business Contributions to the SDGs – analyzes a sample of over 200 companies around the world that produced a GRI report in 2020. Key findings include:

  • 83% of companies state that they support the SDGs, recognizing the value of aligning their reports with the Goals;
  • 69% of companies articulate which Goals are most relevant to their business, with 61% specifying how their actions support the SDGs;
  • 40% of companies set measurable commitments for how they will help achieve the SDGs, while 20% include evidence to assess their positive impacts.

The research highlights trends in SDG reporting, with recommendations on how companies can improve their communications and performance that include:

  • Providing targets on how they support the SDGs, particularly for those that connect most closely to the companies activities, products or business relationships;
  • Deepen reporting on their positive contributions to the SDGs, while also responding to stakeholder demands for transparency on negative impacts;
  • Make data on their SDG performance easily accessible by using internationally recognized frameworks, such as the GRI Standards;
  • Collaborate on SDG reporting, sharing practices both up and down the value chain, while doing more to engage their suppliers in this important topic.

Peter Paul van de Wijs, GRI Chief External Affairs Officer, said: “This study confirms the crucial role of sustainability reporting in enabling companies to explore how their actions impact on the 2030 Agenda, while providing the transparency needed for governments and the international community to measure progress on the SDGs. It is encouraging, therefore, that we are seeing most GRI reporting companies commit to alignment with the SDGs.

The urgent next step is to ramp up the role of the private sector in contributing to solutions for fulfilling the Goals, which requires more in-depth and quantifiable disclosure, which links SDG performance with business strategy. Doing so not will only increase progress on the Goals but it can also unlock opportunities for innovation and collaboration.”

Colin Curtis, Founder and Director of Support the Goals, said: “If we’re to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, every business needs to understand how they can contribute to them. It’s wonderful to see that the majority of businesses in our research are showing their support for the Goals. We now urgently need to see an increase in the number of businesses setting measurable targets that contribute to the SDGs, reporting on their progress and – crucially – helping their suppliers understand how they can get involved.”

Download the report (pdf)